Cover image for The Indian reform letters of Helen Hunt Jackson, 1879-1885
The Indian reform letters of Helen Hunt Jackson, 1879-1885
Jackson, Helen Hunt, 1830-1885.
Publication Information:
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xxi, 372 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
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PS2108 .A44 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Helen Hunt Jackson's passionate crusade for Indian rights comes to life in this collection of more than 200 letters, most of which have never been published before. With Valerie Sherer Mathes's helpful notes, the letters reveal the behind-the-scenes drama of Jackson's involvement in Indian reform, which led her to write A Century of Dishonor and her protest novel, Ramona.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described Jackson as the "greatest American woman poet." These stirring letters will intrigue anyone interested in Indian affairs, nineteenth-century women's studies, or the social history of Victorian America, where Jackson made her mark despite the restrictions on women. Among her correspondents were Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Moncure D. Conway, Henry B. Whipple, Henry L. Dawes, Henry Teller, Carl Schurz, and of course, commissioners of Indian affairs and such prominent editors as Whitelaw Reid, Charles Dudley Warner, and Richard Watson Gilder.

The letters are presented in sections on the Ponca and Mission Indian causes, allowing readers to focus on the time period and Indian group of choice.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Ably selected and edited by Mathes, author of Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Reform Legacy (CH, Mar'91), this lively collection of Jackson's letters is in two parts. In the first section, Jackson pours her energies into the cause of the Poncas, who were removed from their reservation in Dakota Territory to Sioux lands because of a government error. Jackson's outrage at the government's indifference led her to research other broken treaties and agreements to produce A Century of Dishonor(1881). The letters in the second section culminated in Jackson's publication of the romantic novel Ramona (1884), intended to arouse public support for groups of mission Indians in California who were in constant danger of being removed from their lands by white settlers. The collection brings an immediacy to the complex issues of Indian reform in the period immediately preceding the Dawes Act of 1887, an effort to substitute private for communal property-holding among the Indian nations. A valuable contribution to Western history as well as women's history, this collection provides a convincing example of a 19th-century woman writer to whom prominent male government and literary leaders listened. Upper-division undergraduates and above. P. W. Kaufman; University of Southern Maine